Finding a way to translate a story from one medium to another is tough enough, but how exactly do you go about transforming one of television’s biggest—and most secretive—shows into a video game? “It was a daunting task,” admitted Kevin Shortt, lead script writer and story designer on Lost: Via Domus. The game was published by Ubisoft and developed in its Montreal studio.
In a phone interview with the Straight, he explained that three creators and executive producers of the show—J. J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse, and Damon Lindelof—had oversight of the game’s story line. After Ubisoft won the right to turn Lost into a video game, Shortt and other team members spent two days in Los Angeles meeting with the show’s creators and writers. “We had one two-hour session in which we just brainstormed ideas,” Shortt said. “We came away with a lot of ideas from that.”
Dawn Kelly, who wrote for the show in its first two years, acted as “point” for the production company and ABC. “She and I spent months fleshing out story ideas and came up with the nuts and bolts of the story itself,” Shortt said. Kelly’s participation was essential, he continued, because she knew the voices of the characters and the world of Lost. “Any questions we had about the black smoke or any of the hatches, she gave us great, detailed answers, and we were able to flesh out a really good story that is true to the Lost universe.”
Cuse and Lindelof—and ABC—were adamant that no big secrets be unveiled in the video game. The game does, however, promise some exclusives. The magnetic wall in the Swan hatch, for example, was never explored in the television show but is revealed in the video game. “Working with Damon and Carlton, we established what was behind the wall,” Shortt said.
“We wanted to make sure that when you wander around the hatch, you get to see the hatch you’ve seen on television, but if you’re a diligent fan you can poke around and check behind this spot and that spot and get extra little details that you wouldn’t get on the television show and you can apply to your theories on the world of Lost.”
Unlike a television series, which can hook viewers to get them to tune in the following week, a video game has to end. “We can’t leave them with a cliffhanger and have them wait for another two years for another game,” Shortt said. “But at the same time, we wanted it to end with a way that leaves you with questions. Satisfied but with more questions about the world of Lost.” Shortt credits Lindelof with solving that problem. “He came up with a brilliant ending to the game.”
And will there be more Lost video games? “It’s a huge world. There are other games living on that island—whether we pull them out or not, we’ll have to wait and see.”